Jailed US basketball star’s Russian workforce testified in courtroom to Griner’s good character and skills, lawyer says.
A Russian basketball membership director and workforce captain have testified on behalf of jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner, because the two-time Olympic gold medalist made her third look in a Russian courtroom on medication prices.
Defence lawyer Maria Blagovolina mentioned UMMC Ekaterinburg membership boss Maxim Ryabkov had testified to Griner’s good character through the listening to on Thursday, which was closed to reporters.
She mentioned Ryabkov advised the courtroom of Griner’s “excellent skills as a participant and private contribution to strengthening workforce spirit”.
“It’s the primary time we noticed our basketball participant. She appears good,” Ryabkov additionally advised reporters within the city of Khimki, on the outskirts of Moscow, the place the trial is being held. “Our intention was to indicate what a giant function she performed within the membership, in Russian basketball basically.”
Griner final week pleaded responsible to drug possession and smuggling, however mentioned she had no intention of committing against the law.
The Girls’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) All-Star centre was detained on February 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters with hashish oil allegedly have been present in her baggage.
She was returning to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a workforce within the Russian Premier League, earlier than the US season resumed, a typical observe for gamers, who can earn a lot greater salaries in overseas leagues than on home groups.
Griner faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted.
UMMC Ekaterinburg captain Yevgenia Belyakova additionally testified in Griner’s defence on Thursday.
“We very a lot miss her, her vitality,” Belyakova advised reporters, including that she needed to “stand by [Griner] in these moments” and hoped that the “case can be over”.
Griner’s incarceration got here at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the US over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and US President Joe Biden’s administration has mentioned she is being “wrongfully detained”. Moscow has denied any political component to the case.
Amid ideas Griner could possibly be exchanged for a Russian citizen jailed within the US, a Russian deputy overseas minister mentioned final week that the “hype” surrounding her case was not useful.
The Biden administration has beforehand mentioned it’s working to carry Griner and one other American, Michigan company safety government Paul Whelan, dwelling from Russia, and that their instances stay priorities.
Earlier this month, Griner appealed on to Biden in a letter, asking him to do all the pieces in his energy to safe her return to the US. “I nonetheless have a lot good to do with my freedom that you could assist restore,” she wrote.
“I miss my spouse! I miss my household! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they’re struggling a lot proper now. I’m grateful for no matter you are able to do at this second to get me dwelling.”
In the meantime, Blagovolina mentioned the defence was happy with the most recent courtroom session on Thursday.
“It was a particularly emotional day for Brittney, who was touched by the looks of the membership director, head doctor and her teammate, who gave a particularly constructive description of our shopper each personally and professionally,” she advised the Reuters information company.